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Advanced Yoga Study ( By Swami Dharmananda
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instruments and their limitations and got badly entangled and bound by matter like a fish in a fisherman's net. The soul has to learn to extricate itself from this bondage.
The science of yoga is the process by which the soul releases itself, and regains its lost essential nature. The body and mind, the instruments of the soul are responsible for its bondage. The very same instruments when properly trained developed and purified help in its release. The word, ‘Kosha' in Sanskrit means a sheath, a covering a veil. The soul has five such sheaths or coverings, which veils or limits its potentialities. Collectively these sheaths are known as Panchakosha. A detail description of these Koshas is given below (Fig-1)

Annamaya Kosha (The Physical Body)
This is the body, which is most familiar to us. This is the body which modern science has studied in great detail. Science today has achieved the miracle of not only transplanting important organs of this body, but of cloning the body itself, i.e. producing an exact duplicate. The word, ‘Anna' means food and ‘Annamaya' means produced from food. The word food or anna here stands for the five great elements. In Hindu philosophy the whole of the gross material universe is formed from a combination of five great elements. The physical body, a small object in this universe is also formed from the same elements.

The five great elements or Panchamahabhoot are

  Akash
Vayu
Agni
Apah
Prithvi
(Space)
(Air or Gross Prana)
(Fire)
(Water)
(Earth)


The elements are mentioned according to the density of matter contained in them. Each succeeding element is of grosser or denser matter. These elements are not the same as the elements known to modern science. These elements are different grades or densities in which matter exits. We will study these elements in their reverse order.

Prithvi (Earth)
This element is matter in its grossest, densest and most solid form with very distinct shape and size, e.g. rocks, sand, clay, metals etc.

Apah (Water)
This element Apah is not just water or water like liquids. It represents, that state of matter which has not as yet solidified, but, exits in a fluid state with no distinguishable shape, size or form. This element includes the air or wind, as we know it. Air is matter in a fluid form, more fluid than liquids. This so-called gaseous state of matter, which is generally translated as vayu, but it is more correct to consider it as Apah. So all matter in a fluid state, including all forms of liquids and gaseous states of matter is Apah.

   
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